# Complete the Square

Pronunciation: /kəmˈplit ðə skwɛər/ Explain

Complete the square is an algorithm used to convert a quadratic equation into vertex form. The complete the square algorithm is also used to derive the quadratic equation. Table 1 gives the algorithm for completing the square.

1 Start with the equation in standard form.
2   Use the distributive property of multiplication of addition and subtraction to get x2 + bx inside parenthesis.
3  Simplify, if possible.
4  Add and subtract b2 / (4a2).
5  Simplify, if possible.
6  Use the distributive property of multiplication over addition and subtraction to move -(b / 2a)2 out of the parenthesis.
7  Simplify if possible.
8  Factor the square.
9  Subtract the constant term from both sides. The equation is now in vertex form. This demonstration will continue to derive the quadratic formula by solving for x.
10  Divide both sides by a.
11  Make 4a2 the common denominator.
12  Combine the fractions.
13  Take the square root of both sides.
14  Simplify.
15  Subtract b / (2a) from both sides.
16  Combine the fractions.
17  Use the symmetric property of equality to put the x on the left of the equals sign. This is the quadratic formula.
Table 1: The complete the square algorithm

### Geometric Interpretation of Complete the Square

StepDiagramDescription
1 The square has dimensions x by x so the square represents x2. The rectangle has dimensions b by x, so the rectangle represents bx. The circle represents a.
2 The rectangle can be divided in half. Each half represents bx / 2.
3  4 Move the two rectangles around the square to form part of a larger square.
5 Complete the square by adding b2/4 to both sides.
Table 2: Geometric interpretation of complete the square.
1. McAdams, David E.. All Math Words Dictionary, complete the square. 2nd Classroom edition 20150108-4799968. pg 39. Life is a Story Problem LLC. January 8, 2015. Buy the book
2. Wells, Webster. A Complete Course in Algebra for Academies and High Schools. pp 213-217. www.archive.org. Wells' Mathematical Series. Leach, Shewell & Sandborn. 1885. Last Accessed 6/25/2018. http://www.archive.org/stream/courseincomplete00wellrich#page/213/mode/1up/search/square. Buy the book
3. Bettinger, Alvin K. and Englund, John A.. Algebra and Trigonometry. pp 206-209. www.archive.org. International Textbook Company. January 1963. Last Accessed 6/25/2018. http://www.archive.org/stream/algebraandtrigon033520mbp#page/n223/mode/1up. Buy the book

• McAdams, David E.. Vertex Form. allmathwords.org. All Math Words Encyclopedia. Life is a Story Problem LLC. 6/27/2018. http://www.allmathwords.org/en/v/vertexform.html.

McAdams, David E. Complete the Square. 4/14/2019. All Math Words Encyclopedia. Life is a Story Problem LLC. http://www.allmathwords.org/en/c/completethesquare.html.

### Revision History

4/14/2019: Updated equations and expressions to new format. (McAdams, David E.)
12/21/2018: Reviewed and corrected IPA pronunication. (McAdams, David E.)